Benzema & Kroos Get Real Back On Winning Trail
23 January, 2023
Real Madrid returned to winning ways in LaLiga after defeating Atheltic Bilbao 2-0 on Sunday evening.
Result: Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Real Madrid
Date: 22 January 2023
Venue: San Mames
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti rewarded Dani Ceballos with a start after his winning goal in the Copa del Rey against Villarreal while Marco Asensio was recalled to join Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior upfront, with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos reserved.
Los Blancos were living dangerously in the early stages, with Inaki and Nico Williams in particular causing them all sorts of problems.
However, despite a shaky start, the visitors' quality shone through on 24 minutes after Benzema broke the deadlock with a stunning left-footed volley after a knock-down by Asensio.Madrid gained control of the game after that but only as far as keeping Bilbao at bay by keeping possession, as they were yet to click into gear and went to the break in need of improvements despite a narrow lead.
Ernesto Valverde's men needed to re-establish their early aggression coming from the interval but they played second fiddle to Los Blancos in the early stages of the second stanza.
Madrid's early pressure carried them through to the hour-mark where Nacho had a good chance to double their lead from close-range in a scramble in the box but saw his effort smothered by goalkeeper Unai Simon.
The game opened up after that, as Bilbao had a sense of urgency triggered and Asensio should have doubled Madrid's lead six minutes later after he combined with Benzema to go clear on goal but he dragged his shot just wide, one-on-one with Simon.
At the other end, Nico Williams fluffed a big chance for Bilbao at the back post and with 17 minutes to go, Ancelotti needed better control of the game as he brought on Modric in place of Asensio for tactical reasons.
The home side had momentum in the closing stages, with a good attacking spell and came close to equalising after Aitor Paredes lifted a header past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from a corner but his effort was cleared off the line by Eduardo Camavinga.
The Italian mentor had a last throw of a dice in the dying minutes as he brought Kroos in place of Ceballos to shore up the midfield and the German settled the contest in the last minute with an improvised finish after a pull back by Rodrygo in the box.